Isn't it wonderful that we all know a hipster when we see one, but it seems no one will cop to being a hipster, even in response to a piece basically praising the group? I mean, it can't be impossible to know you're a hipster: You wear flannel and a beard, you drink Pabst, you frequent bars described as "hipster hangouts," you listen to bands well known as "hipster bands," and you listen to them on vinyl. Or any three of the above.
Does the hipster every once in a while question himself: Could I be a hipster?
Or does the hipster know damned well she is a hipster, but also knows it's un-hipster-like to label herself in such a way?
In any case, I heard from not one hipster after posting yesterday's post on the subject.
I did, however, hear from some others.
"Hippies didn't go around saying, 'Hey, I'm a hippie,'" said a friend old enough to know.
"I think you need to add a bit more nuance to your breakdown," said another friend, young enough to know better than me. "There are hipsters who fit your description, who live only for a PBR and Beam (with the occasional Old Style mixed in) and then there are yuppies who have appropriated the garb, surface level musical tastes, and facial hair of the hipster identity in order to cover their rampant campaign of $10 cocktails and gentrification."
"For the longest time I have wrestled with this term, not understanding it at all," someone wrote to me. "It's a culture that I absolutely cannot relate to. And that's the point, right?" After not understanding one family member for a long time, she realized on reading my article, "I think that [he] is a hipster. … It's a sort of stuck-in-adolescence way of being," carried out by people who spend free time "practicing not caring. It looks and feels to me like the emptiest life ever." My correspondent has been hurt because she believes "I am one of the people [he] practices not caring about."
Another correspondent wrote a more impersonal assessment: "I like the fact that they aren’t wildly ambitious, they aren’t acquisitive social climbers, they probably don’t give a shit about clothing or car brands, a lot of them don’t even bother driving, they care about the environment, they probably just assume the sexes should be treated equally, they are gay-friendly, they like good, healthy food, and they are non-violent. Mind you, I wouldn’t want to go camping with them, their arrogance is irritating and I still hate their tattoos."
Me? As I've said, I like hipsters. I live half a block away from one of the biggest hipster hangouts in Chicago, The Empty Bottle. Hipster music seven nights a week, hipsters shambling up the sidewalk toward it smoking dope that fills our living room, hipsters weaving down the sidewalk at closing time, drunk—but not impolite!
Once I awoke to a giggling hipster up in a tree just outside my bedroom window.
"Please get out of my tree," I almost whispered, afraid of startling him.
"Oh my gosh!" he said. "I'm so sorry!" He kept apologizing as he clambered down, and when he finally hit the sidewalk, he said, "Have a good night, sir!"
There's worse things than hipsters, as long as you don't take 'em personally. And there's worse beers than Pabst. But I guess it must be also said: There are better beers, too.